This seems to have been the busiest week for press releases I’ve had in ages – every time I check my inbox there’s about 200 more about babies and Christmas and all the rest. It’s quite hard to keep up but today I got an email with a subject that I couldn’t ignore;
Turner Contemporary to host The Horniman Museum Walrus
The Horniman Walrus is pretty famous amongst South East Londoners – the podgy marine beasty even had its own Twitter account until relatively recently, which is always the sign of a popular inanimate object, I find.
The reason the walrus got so popular – apart from the fact that walruses are badass – is because he isn’t quite, how should I put this, anatomically correct.
He was hunted down in Canada way back in the 1800s by an intrepid Victorian explorer and brought back to London to star in the Canadian section of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in South Kensington. Frederick Horniman bought him shortly afterwards and wacked him in his snazzy new museum as a star attraction.
Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately, as this is where the walrus’s fame comes in – not many Victorians had ever seen a walrus, so the poor bastard taxidermist kind of guessed what he was doing and just kept stuffing that bad boy until he was a big round ball. Who knew that they had squidgy wrinkles and floppy bits? Not this dude.
This almighty cock up, like most almighty cock ups of such a loltimate nature, led to the walrus becoming the most popular exhibit at the Horniman – and I’d wager one of the most popular stuffed animals in any museum, to be honest.
Since he arrived at the museum in 1901, he’s only moved around the room a bit during exhibition reshuffles – but that’s all set to change next summer. Finally getting reunited with the sea, the walrus will be heading down to the Turner Contemporary to take part in the Curiosity: Art & The Pleasures of Knowing exhibition.
Joining our main man will be a penguin from Quex Park in Kent and the tusk of a narwhal (!!) from the Beaney library in Cantebury. Sweeeeeet.
Janet Vitmayer CBE, director of the Horniman says: “We are delighted that the walrus is to be a part of the exhibition on his first outing from the Horniman. Loaning objects and artworks is an important part of the work of all museums and galleries, and we’re glad to give visitors to Turner Contemporary in Margate the chance to enjoy one of our most popular exhibits in a new context.”
Walrus Tour, as I’ve decided to call it, starts on 25 May 2013.
PS Not sure what it says about the press releases I’ve been getting that the one that’s inspired me most recently is one about a walrus?